Mercury, a toxic chemical element, is used in backlit screens containing CCFL (cold cathode fluorescent lamps).

As part of the ongoing revision of EU Ecodesign regulation EC/642/2009 for televisions, DIGITALEUROPE has proposed a complete phase out of mercury containing back light for televisions. They are gradually being replaced by other safer technologies, but CCFL screens will continue to be disposed of by consumers for at least another decade.

Manufacturers are being offered a choice of two logos: one that identifies screens containing mercury, the other identifying those that are mercury-free. They use the letters Hg – mercury’s chemical symbol in the periodic table.

“The logos will help those collecting and recycling these products at end of life,” said Sylvie Feindt, the director leading DIGITALEUROPE’s environment policy group.

WRAP project manager for Products and Materials Lucy Coope said: “There are additional economic benefits. Separating screens containing mercury will allow for easier extraction of valuable elements in mercury-free screens, and it may also reduce treatment costs as only those screens containing CCFL backlights will need to be transported and treated as hazardous. Currently all TVs and monitors are considered hazardous because they may contain mercury.”

WRAP has conducted research to try to understand the potential for improving recovery by automating the process. The presence of logos on the back of screens could help move to a safer, automated process, according to WRAP.

In a joint statement, both organisations said: “WRAP and DIGITALEUROPE are confident that the logos will benefit many stakeholders in this sector by enhancing the opportunity for recycling operators efficiently to recycle end of life TVs and monitors in a safe and environmentally sound manner.”

Liz Gyekye

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